Once used to grow hyacinths, this humble Chinese pot has sold at auction in the UK for more than $150,000, almost 200 times its high estimate.
Sworders Fine Art Auctioneers in Essex, England sold a Chinese blue and white ceramic jardinière to a Chinese buyer for almost 200 times its $610 high valuation, bringing the price down to almost $120,000 (around $155,550 with buyer’s commission) and what made it the top lot in the May 19 Asian Art Sale. Its last owners used it to grow hyacinths, but even earlier, during the Qing Dynasty (1636-1912), it was probably used to display flowers and bonsai trees at court.
The hexagonal piece, nearly two feet in diameter, depicts scenes of the eight immortal doaists, often found in Chinese art, literature and popular culture, who can bestow life or destroy evil. (They are also sometimes referred to as the Eight Jinn or, more colorfully, the Eight Drunken Immortals, as they are sometimes referred to as big drunkards.) He bears the stamp of the Kangxi Emperor, Shengzu of Qing, who reigned from 1662 to 1720, he is the longest reigning leader in Chinese history. .
According to the auctioneer, a strikingly similar item still stands in the Forbidden City in Beijing.
Blue and white porcelain is perhaps the most recognizable piece of pottery made from cobalt ore, which was first imported from Persia. Their popularity rose during the Yuan Dynasty (which lasted from the 13th to the 14th centuries) and remained prominent during the Ming (14th–17th centuries) and Qing (17th–20th centuries) periods.
It is not entirely clear when the item came into the hands of the seller’s family, as their ancestors served as missionaries in China in the late 19th century and brought back some valuable items from there. According to the auctioneer, the seller’s parents also worked for Sotheby’s in the 1950s and 60s.
The sale took place at the Swirders’ trading floor in the village of Stansted Mountfitchet, about 35 miles north of London. Other items on offer that day included a Chinese bronze bodhisattva that sold for $74,000 and a Chinese bronze incense burner that cost nearly $36,000.
Recently, prices for Chinese porcelain at auctions have been going through the roof. A Qing Dynasty period bowl measuring just four inches in diameter (featuring natural color flora and fauna) sold at Sotheby’s Hong Kong in April for $25.4 million, and a Ming blue and white vase sold at Sotheby’s Hong Kong in April. 2011 for $21.6 million after 10 minutes of trading. contest.
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